Handicap International’s main goal in Niger is to have a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities and/or vulnerable people, by reducing risks and preventing disabilities, improving access to services, and promoting a more inclusive society. In 2006, the organization decided to set up a permanent program to ensure the long-term future of its actions and to radically improve the living conditions of people with disabilities. Since the 2012, Handicap International has been working to improve the living conditions of refugees in Niamey (shown above), who fled the violence in neighboring Mali. There are 35 national staff members and two expatriates working on behalf of Handicap International in Niger.
Niger is one of the poorest countries on the planet, and 86.1% of its population lives in extreme poverty. In 2013, Niger’s Human Development Index was the worst of any of the 186 countries measured by the UNDP. Although they already suffer tough living conditions, the situation facing people with disabilities is made worse by wide-spread discrimination and socioeconomic inequality. Due to this discrimination, disabled people have very limited access to education, jobs and health services. They are also excluded from communities and their specific needs are rarely taken into account in development actions. Until 2009, Niger had been repeatedly destabilized by recurrent Tuareg rebellions, mainly in the north of the country. These bouts of conflict have left Agadez province contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war, which continue kill and maim people today.
Through a West African regional project that also takes place in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Togo, Handicap International promotes the inclusion of children with disabilities in Niger's education system. To ensure children with disabilities benefit from an education that meets their needs, this project supports the parents of children with disabilities, trains teachers in teaching techniques for children with physical, sensory or mental impairments, and advocates for national inclusive educational policy. This project has already benefited 3,300 children with disabilities; at least 300 teachers, school heads, and teaching supervisors in 530 schools; and 120 members of disabled people's organizations.
Handicap International helps people with disabilities in the cities of Niamey and Maradi enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens and ensures their full participation in social and economic life. HI staff provide technical and organizational support to The Niger Disabled People's Federation and local authorities in Niamey and Maradi to in order to promote inclusive development processes in these areas. Training is also provided to local authorities to encourage them to take people with disabilities into account when implementing policies so they can enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens.
Support for Refugees
Handicap International also uses its expertise to support the Malian refugees currently living in Niamey, having fled the drought and fighting in northern Mali the broke out in the summer of 2012. The organization has also taken over the management of a reception team and support team that provide refugees with referrals to all the different services they require (health, education etc.).
Small Arms and Light Weapons
Handicap International also runs a project to secure the country's armed forces' weapons and munitions stockpiles with the aim of limiting the risk of accidents. The organization simultaneously works on the construction and rehabilitation of adapted storage facilities and the destruction of obsolete weapons and munitions.